The Reload Analysis Newsletter

Members’ Newsletter: Media Malpractice on ‘Ghost Gun’ Dogs and Where the NRA Goes Now

The gun news just keeps rolling in. The past three weeks have been some of the busiest of my career. I started The Reload because I want to illuminate the kinds of big gun stories we’ve seen flood in recently.

It’s the same reason that bad gun reporting bothers me so much. So, let’s start with an example of a story that doesn’t illuminate but instead confuses the issues at play.

Ghost Gun Sniffing Dogs
KSBY Headline / Screenshot

An Example of Media Malpractice on Guns and the Dangers of Swallowing Narratives Whole

KSBY in Santa Barbara, California, reported a pretty remarkable story on Friday about police using a new K9 unit to sniff out “ghost guns.” Too bad it’s a bunch of nonsense.

“Ghost guns” are just homemade guns that don’t have serial numbers engraved into them. That’s it. They’re made of the same materials as other guns.

It’s ridiculous to have to point this out, but dogs, no matter how well trained, cannot smell the difference between a gun with a serial number and one without.

But that’s the framing the story was sold under. Even when both the reporter and police officer admit all the dog can detect is the smell of polymer, steel, and gun powder. They can’t smell whether a gun has serial numbers or if it is registered with the state of California.

The journalists here should’ve known better than to frame this story like this. It makes everyone involved look ridiculous.

And, worse, it leaves out some critical questions that would serve an actual public interest. For instance, if this dog alerts on the smell of plastic and steel, doesn’t that create serious 4th Amendment concerns? The same kinds of plastic and metal are used in retail firearms…not to mention a hell of a lot of non-firearm products. How exactly does smelling those materials equate to probable cause for a search? How exactly does the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office safeguard against false positives here?

I believe most police try to do the right thing most of the time. My grandfather was a police officer his entire adult life. My cousin is a cop today. But there’s a big difference between respecting police and mindlessly repeating whatever a police spokesperson tells you.

You should check out the full post to get more of my thoughts on the story and why uncritically repeating police narratives is irresponsible.

NRA Annual Meeting 2018
A display at the NRA’s 2018 Annual Meeting / Stephen Gutowski

How the NRA Made Things Worse for Themselves

A federal judge threw out the NRA’s bankruptcy this week. It’s a terrible development for the nation’s largest, most influential gun group. They’ve said in public statements they plan to continue fighting New York Attorney General Letitia James (D.) and her attempt to shut them down back in state court. But NRA lawyers said the fact that the group was unlikely to win that case was a key reason why the group qualified for bankruptcy protection.

The NRA’s idea was that it may be financially solvent now, but James seeking to seize their assets would keep them from being able to pay their creditors. Therefore, the bankruptcy court should step in and stop her.

The judge disagreed that was a legitimate use of bankruptcy. He was also concerned about the continued problems with NRA management, including Wayne LaPierre keeping news of the bankruptcy filing from the group’s CFO, lawyer, and board until after it was already filed. Experts told me this week the ruling makes it unlikely the NRA can appeal, and they are likely left fighting things out in state court.

The millions spent on the bankruptcy and all the bad press that came with it are likely for naught. In fact, ironically, the whole gambit probably increased the NRA’s chances of being dissolved. Everything that came out in the trial, such as the lack of punishment for LaPierre and his assistant when they were found to have diverted NRA money to themselves, will likely be used in the dissolution suit. Not to mention, the group may have to pay legal fees for other parties in the case.

I think it’s still a heavy lift for James to shut them down, though. Especially given how overtly political James has been in pursuing the NRA, even calling it a “terrorist organization” while running for AG. The more likely outcome involves fines and the removal of leaders like LaPierre and the board.

You can read more of my thoughts on what’s next for them in this members’ post.

NRA ad
An ad to join the NRA / Stephen Gutowski

NRA Q&A on Tuesday at 6 p.m. Eastern

We’re doing another Members’ Q&A on Tuesday night. This time I’ll do my best to answer any and all questions you have about the NRA and its future. I’ll send out an email on Tuesday morning with details and a link to the forum page.

I was extremely impressed by the knowledge shown by Reload members last time around. So, I’m really looking forward to this one too!


Gun surgery

Fixing My Problematic Sig Sauer P365

I spent some time on Saturday doing a bit of gun surgery on my Sig Sauer P365. I bought this gun back in 2018 to replace my Springfield XDS for concealed carry. The trigger and sights are fantastic. The capacity is incredible for its size. I love everything about it…except the fact that it constantly gives me light-primer strikes.

And you can’t trust your life to a gun that you can’t trust to work every time you pull the trigger.

This is something of a pattern I’ve seen from my Sigs so far. I bought a P320 X-Five for a song a few years back. It’s a fantastic shooter. I love everything about it…except for the times where it wouldn’t go back into battery. That seems to have been a break-in issue because it fixed itself after about a thousand rounds. But I wish the Sigs I bought would work right out of the box instead of throwing all of these issues at me.

My XDS never gave me any problems, and it still doesn’t. But I’ve been considering getting another Sig anyway. I want the P365 XL for its longer barrel and even greater capacity.

So, I figured I should actually fix my regular P365 before I took that leap. Now, I’ve cleaned the striker housing before, since that’s the most obvious fix for light-primer strikes. It has some effect, but I was still getting the light strikes. Since the P365’s striker spring was lightened in the months after its release when they were having problems with primers breaking, I figured maybe they overcorrected on my June 2018 production gun and went ahead and bought a replacement striker assembly.

P365 Striker Assemblies

They’re similar but not identical. So, maybe I’m on the right track with this fix. But the striker assembly and housing were pretty oily and dirty. Perhaps it really did just need a deeper clean?

The new striker, which was an official Sig part, didn’t quite fit right at first. I had to shave down a little bit of the plastic part to get the backplate on. That was one main difference between the two strikers, and it was pretty disappointing to see an official part slightly out of spec like that, but it did all fit eventually and function properly.

I’m not ready to bet my life on this thing yet, of course. I’ll need to put a couple hundred rounds through it soon to see if any issues pop up. That’s going to be an expensive proposition given the ammo market (more on that coming soon, by the way), but it’s the only way to know for sure.

At least it should work now. In theory.

I’ll keep you guys updated.

We passed 3,400 subscribers this week, which is really exciting to me. We’re over 300 paid members as well. The Reload is on its way to sustainability. We still have a ways to go but, with your help, I’m confident we’ll get there.

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got for this week. Talk to you during the Tuesday Q&A!

Stephen Gutowski
The Reload

Join For Sober, Serious Firearms Reporting & Analysis

Free Weekly Newsletter

Get the most important gun news

  • Weekly News & Analysis Newsletters
  • Access to Exclusive Posts
  • Early Access to the Podcast
  • Commenting Privileges
  • Exclusive Question & Answer Sessions
Buy Now
Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019


Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019

Comments From Reload Members

Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
James Schudrowitz
James Schudrowitz
1 year ago

I suspect you have stumbled upon the solution to your light strike issue with the 365. My 320s are similar. Somewhere between 500 and 1,000 round intervals, it’s a good idea to remove the striker assembly. The assembly itself is mostly clean but a Hoppe’s soaked Q-Tip usually comes out… Read more »


Member Login

Go back to the home page.

Sorry, only paid members have access to the full story.

Join For Sober, Serious Firearms Reporting & Analysis

  • Weekly News & Analysis Newsletters
  • Access to Exclusive Posts
  • Early Access to the Podcast
  • Commenting Privileges
  • Exclusive Question & Answer Sessions
Buy Now